Tuesday 23 April 2013

EC, Lillie Bridge, the residents fight on and those dodgy shares

A long blog this week in order to cover two interesting aspects of the EC development.

In recent weeks, we have drawn attention to the Lillie Bridge depot, in particular blogs by The Guardian's Dave Hill and other bits and pieces suggesting that the necessary sale of the depot to CapCo for the larger EC development was not a foregone conclusion.

In March last year we wrote in this blog;

" Boris, in his capacity as Mayor, is the largest landowner of the site as he owns Lillie Bridge through TfL and the Earls Court Exhibition Centre (ECEC) freehold which is leased to CapCo. Reference to Lillie Bridge Depot as being a critical issue has come to our attention before and this is a strong hint as to why that nugget was placed before us."

We have also been recently drawn to an appearance before the London Assembly by Graeme Craig, commercial director of Transport for London. He was questioned about the current TfL business plan.  According to Craig;

"Lillie Bridge depot – there are assumed revenues in the business plan. Not £200m, as it happens, from development at Earls Court." Craig explained. "But the business plan doesn't assume any disposal of Lillie Bridge depot. That's in part because we haven't yet carried out the work on – or the work hasn't been completed – on the feasibility of removing the operational infrastructure and the stabling at Lillie Bridge Depot. So there's work underway on Lillie Bridge Depot and we should know by the end of this year as to whether it will be developable as part of the wider Earls Court Masterplan."

So the long standing nod and wink (we were first given a steer as to the criticality of Lillie Bridge well over a year ago) is starting to form into an interesting reality. The difficulty is in predicting what it means or what will happen. It is our instinct that TfL will eventually sell but that they are determined to squeeze as much value as possible from its sale. It is clear they themselves don't consider that to necessarily be as part of the EC Masterplan. CapCo are having to wait until the end of this year to know whether Lillie Bridge is going to be made available to them and how much it will cost which is presumably a pretty alarming prospect; or maybe it is an opportunity?
We can think of one or two scenarios emerging here....but even in a positive light, it might appear like a conspiracy theory so, for now, we will allow our readers to speculate alone...


Still at EC, residents of Gibbs Green and West Ken estateshave had a knock back in their latest application for judicial review but won something of a moral victory when the council's application for costs was firmly rejected by the judge.  Residents return to the High Court on July 17th for a substantive hearing to consider their challenge to the Council's planning policy that underpins the Earl's Court scheme. However, in this case, the judge makes some profoundly interesting comments.

"At an oral hearing on Tuesday 23 April, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, Clive Lewis QC refused permission for judicial review of Hammersmith & Fulham Council's decision to sell the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates to Earl's Court developer Capco. At the same time he dismissed the Council's application for costs.

 In his judgment, the Judge said:

The Claimant is Mr Greatwood. He is a secure tenant on the West Kensington estate. He has lived there for 20 years. It is his home. It is not surprising he is concerned and worried about this proposal. It is not surprising that he has brought the matter before this Court. He is supported by a number of other tenants who are also concerned, as you would expect, about the impact on their homes and the places where they live. Mr Greatwood, has, if I may say, put forward his arguments carefully and moderately.

I pay tribute to Mr Greatwood and his supporters for the careful, considered and moderate way in which they have put these arguments in this Court.

Firstly, I take on board the point that this is a matter of very great importance to Mr Greatwood and his friends. He is a secure tenant on these estates; he has lived there for 20 years. This is his home. He was perfectly entitled, in my judgment, to challenge the lawfulness of the decision. Secondly, the way he has conducted himself, in my judgment, is exemplary. He has done everything he can to assist this Court by focusing his arguments and taking points that appear sensible. He has done everything he can to marshal quite difficult material and papers. In my judgement, his conduct cannot be criticised in any way whatsoever.... So, in my judgment, it would be inappropriate to order the costs of the Acknowledgment of Service. So, whilst I fully understand the application made by the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham … the application for costs is dismissed.

Upon advice, the Claimant has decided not to appeal the Judge's decision. Harold Greatwood said:

I'm not going anywhere, and I know that the majority of my neighbours shall also be staying put. We're back in court this summer. It's far from over: we fight to the bitter end.


And finally.....

A little birdie tells us that the number of shares still in dispute after the s793 letter farrago is fewer than 100.... Considerably fewer in fact.


  1. Now that Lillie Bridge seems to be available, do you know what the likelihood of putting a stadium on it is? I've been told it's rather narrow...

  2. It is a difficult spot from an engineering point of view but 17acres is still far bigger than the 11 at SB. However, most importantly, CFC owning that plot bang in the middle of the EC Development would give the club, shall we say, leverage.....

  3. It's a well known fact that Chelsea FC desperately need a bigger stadium and the only place it could be built is at Earls Court. Since Roman Abramovich invested money in English football, other wealthy investors have done the same which is good for football in this country. Just look at what a difference he has made, World class players like Frank Lampard, John Terry and Ashley Cole go on to play for England and give us all hope that we can win a major trophy for the first time in 47 years. Roman Abramovich has started something that's really good for English football so come on and give the man a well deserved break and let him build his new stadium where it should be - at Earls Court!